United in Shanghai

 
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Last week, an anonymous $6000 donation landed on Ryan Muir's campaign page. We reached out to Ryan to see what his secret was because let's face it, $6000 donations are the stuff of dreams. We were inspired to hear Ryan's story about how he & his team at Concordia International School Shanghai are engaging their community with Dressember. Ryan was kind enough to share his story and fundraising ideas with us below.


My wife, Jen, and I are international educators at Concordia International School Shanghai.  Throughout our time of being a part of this incredible community, we have noticed two consistent things: this community has a heart to change the world and this community is generous.  The funds raised for Dressember are a representation of our whole community coming together to change the world. While I have stepped out in action to participate, it is certainly something far beyond my own individual efforts.

Last year in the final week of November, my wife heard about Dressember for the first time. It really resonated with her, as she has a deep longing to fight against the injustices of this world.  It was actually a talk she heard from the founder of A21, Christine Caine, at the 2010 Global Leadership Summit that sparked this deep passion within her. She quickly gathered a team of about twenty, consisting of teachers and high school students and they ended up raising a few thousand dollars.

 Ryan's wife, Jen, pictured right, and LeeAnne Lavender, pictured left, are heading up the Dressember movement at their school this year

Ryan's wife, Jen, pictured right, and LeeAnne Lavender, pictured left, are heading up the Dressember movement at their school this year

This year, Jen knew she wanted to take Dressember even bigger. Concordia’s theme this year is “UNITE” and we are focusing on how we can “Wear Love” as individuals and as a united community. That’s exactly what Dressember is, people changing what they WEAR to change the world with LOVE. Jen wanted Dressember to be a part of this year’s school initiatives and received full support from our Head of School, Dr. Mary Scott.  To get the wheels in motion, she partnered with a fellow teacher, LeeAnne Lavender, and some student members of our school’s Global Issues Network. Finally, she also partnered with our marketing department, in hopes that they would provide some creative ideas and also spread the word to our parent community.

"That’s exactly what Dressember is, people changing what they WEAR to change the world with LOVE."

While I wanted to support my wife and this campaign, I was initially a bit hesitant, due to the fact that I hate wearing ties. I rarely wear ties, only to formal events, and sometimes not even then. But I knew it was the least I could do to support the millions of people around the world who have no voice. I teach a class called “Reflective Spiritual Beings,” and one of the virtues we have been studying is “compassion.” I’ve been challenged in my own life to not just talk about compassion, but to live it out with intentionality. I want to be an example to both my students and my own sons. I encouraged my students to donate to my fund and told them I would also match any of their donations.

 Challenged by his classroom topics and inspired by his wife's advocacy, Ryan is wearing ties & bow-ties as a part of Dressember this year.

Challenged by his classroom topics and inspired by his wife's advocacy, Ryan is wearing ties & bow-ties as a part of Dressember this year.

"I hate wearing ties. I rarely wear ties, only to formal events, and sometimes not even then. But I knew it was the least I could do to support the millions of people around the world who have no voice."

Each year, my wife and I take our sons on a trip to the Philippines to broaden their worldview. We want to show them what love looks like in action. Our mission as parents is to raise sons that care more about others than themselves. I long to build up the future generation to continue to make a difference in the world, helping to end problems like modern day slavery.

 Ryan pictured with his two sons. " They both wore their ties and dress pins to school with me as a sign of their support for Dressember. We encouraged our oldest son, Gavin, to share with others that he is wearing a tie and a pin to raise funds to help those around the world in need. He's in Kindergarten. We haven't broached the subject of slavery with him yet.

Ryan pictured with his two sons. "They both wore their ties and dress pins to school with me as a sign of their support for Dressember. We encouraged our oldest son, Gavin, to share with others that he is wearing a tie and a pin to raise funds to help those around the world in need. He's in Kindergarten. We haven't broached the subject of slavery with him yet.

In addition to my own efforts, various other things have been happening around our school for Dressember. Students and teachers have been selling dress pins. Members of the community are wearing their pins as a sign of support for the cause. A few high school students baked dress shaped cookies and sold them at lunchtime. Two grade five male teachers set fundraising goals for their classes. After their classes reached the goal, they wore a dress to school. Using the school’s various forms of social media, our marketing department has sent out a variety of information regarding Dressember.

On the same day that our marketing department highlighted Dressember on social media through #WearLove Wednesday, we received an anonymous donation of $6000. Although the donation was anonymous, we speculate that it may have been a member of our community. At our school’s All School Christmas Assembly on December 15, we have asked students, teachers, and parents in attendance to “dress up” for Dressember as a sign of support.  

 Concordia Shanghai recognized Dressember as part of #WearLove Wednesday on their facebook page on the day that they received a $6000 donation.

Concordia Shanghai recognized Dressember as part of #WearLove Wednesday on their facebook page on the day that they received a $6000 donation.

The unity around Dressember has been simply astonishing, just as we suspected it would be.  We are tremendously blessed to be a part of a community that is committed to changing the world for the better and hope our contribution to Dressember helps bring awareness to this global movement.

XO

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